Marvin Ventrell, JD, is taking the helm of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) as its new director, filling the position that's been open since Michael Walsh left in December. Ventrell was formerly with the Harmony Foundation, a residential treatment center in Colorado.
“The big issue is that addiction is not treated as the national healthcare crisis that it is,” Ventrell tells Addiction Professional in an exclusive interview. “NAATP will continue developing strategies around that.”
While there are many other groups that advocate for greater awareness and treatment of addiction, Ventrell says the 300 NAATP members have the true expertise on what works because they have intimate, firsthand experience in treating individuals in more than 600 centers across the country.
He also says that as a lawyer, he's a strategist and will address some systemic issues as the leader of NAATP. For starters, he wants to drive greater use of evidence in treatment and as a basis for policy recommendations, moving away from “ideologically impassioned dialogue.” When approaching an important policy issue and relying on a belief system as trump, terrible mistakes can be made, he says.
“We need to understand where we sit and recognize those influences on our thinking and appreciate that,” Ventrell says.
Ventrell says ethics will also be top-of-mind, and NAATP will look for more opportunities to implement its code of ethics guidelines.
“It's critical that NAATP continues to further focus its attention on ethical marketing and the ethical delivery of treatment services,” he says.
Additionally, Ventrell sees an opportunity to change the dialogue around anonymity within the 12-Step community because he believes it's misunderstood and misapplied. Anonymous doesn't have to mean silent.
“There is a misunderstanding by some in the 12-Step community that because the 12 Step is anonymous, that the disease discussion should be anonymous,” he says. “But those are two separate matters. Nowhere in 12-Step history is it suggested that we should not advocate publicly for addiction treatment.”
NAATP is also relocating its national headquarters to Denver starting May 1, and Ventrell says the move should take 30 to 60 days to complete. Members will be able to meet him at the NAATP national conference in Carlsbad, Calif., starting May 16.
“NAATP is lucky to have him,” said NAATP Board Chair Ken Gregoire, in a statement. Gregoire also said NAATP is “ideally positioned to make a huge difference” at a time when the industry needs a strong voice.
Ventrell is known for his policy expertise. For example, in 2014 he explained Colorado's marijuana law and its anticipated impacts in a detailed and highly personal Addiction Professional article.
At Harmony Foundation in Colorado, Ventrell directed the Community and Alumni Relations Office. He has been an attorney, a public interest association director and a teacher, according to the Harmony website. He previously served as executive director of the Juvenile Law Society and CEO of the National Association of Counsel for Children, where the organization grew rapidly under his direction. Its budget grew more than 10-fold, and membership doubled, according to the organization's website.
Among Ventrell's accomplishments is his creation of the designation of child welfare law as a legal specialty by the American Bar Association.
He can be reached at email@example.com.